The hall of Ethiopian parliament in Addis Ababa

MPs Unhappy with Mismanagement in Public Institutions

  • They Ask Public Prosecutors to take actions
  • Audit report finds billions unaccounted for

By Sisay Sahlu

ADDIS ABABA – Members of parliament told public prosecutors to start taking actions on public institutes and ministries that are embezzling public money.

Several legislators left livid on Thursday after hearing the Federal Audit Office’s report on 174 public institutions for the 2018/19 fiscal year.

The report, presented by auditor Gemechu Dubiso, found out a number of offices that are still not following the country’s finance regulation.

For years, Gemechu has been the only frustrating figure in the house when presenting his report full of shocking misuses to the same MPs with his request for action often getting no response.

He has now managed to get the attention of a handful of legislators who started to speak up against the growing figures of unaccounted and illegal expenses as well as overdue by the federal government.

His 64-page long audit report indicates that tens of billions of birr of uncollected revenues, unaccounted as well as illegal expenses in many institutions.

Speaker of the house Tagesse Chafo said a special committee of the house has held several meetings in March 2019 with many institutions  which are “swamped with very serious auditing problems”.

They were given a direction to come up with an action plan and work on retrieving the money they squandered within two months.

Of these, only 27 institutions managed drew up an action plan, and only five of them said they had taken measures the two-month time given to them, he said.

“From Now on, the matter should be handled by the federal prosecutors,” he said.

– Growing embezzlement –

Close to 130 institutions of the federal government have failed to collect a sum of over 5.5 billion Br receivables since 2012, claims Gemechu’s audit report.

The report points towards four institutions as having a major problem, in this regard. These are National Disaster and Risk Management (608 million Br), Addis Abeba University (441 million Br), formerly ministry of communication and information (256 million Br) and Mekele University (250 million Br).

Besides, other receivables 1.29 billion Br have also been found uncollected by 9 federal institutions and other six branch offices.

A majority of this, 1.2 billion Br, is registered in the ministry of defense ledger. The audit report says there are no records indicating from where and whom this money should be collected.

General auditors also found billions of Br in the form of uncollected taxes, interest and others while auditing former Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), whose name has now changed to the Ministry of Revenue.

Gemchu also said that a sum of 1.4 billion Br has been found registered as paid in the ledgers of 63 federal institutions without sufficient documents.

The financial audit report points figure towards National Disaster and Risk management, Ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of education, Defense and public universities where the embezzlement level of public money is high.

Lack of follow up 

Despite having its own guidelines on how to budget money to public institutions, the ministry of finance has neither implementing them nor following other institutions that they are spending the public money properly, Gemechu says.

Gemechu accused the ministry of finance of failing to carry out its responsibilities to conduct feasibilities studies on public projects.

As a result, the country has so far lost over 44 billion Br additional money further from their initial project cost “within a few years”.

After hearing the report, concerned MPs said the time is now to take action instead of hearing these kinds of financial mismanagements year after year.

The MPs asked for the prime minister to come and defend the public institutions and the public prosecutors to start legal procedures against the embezzlers.

“We are here not only to approve laws, budgets, and policies but also follow their implementations strictly,” said Tadesse Meselu (MP).

“Now is the time to take action against officials who are not obeying the law,” he said.

Another MP, Zeleke Mehari said, “Public resources are being wasted, and we have to act on this trend swiftly.”

“After all, the country allocates its budget through borrowing and tax from the pockets of humble Ethiopians,
The federal prosecutor too should start to their job and take legal action against these institutions and their officials,” said Zeleke.

MPs may hold a special session to come up with a resolution on how to go ahead with this issue in the coming days.